I didn’t see all the films by any means, and some that I didn’t see but were greeted with great enthusiasm by my fellow-ushers, were: THE GILDED CAGE, France/Portugal 2013. I think this was one of the very few comedies. JAPPELOUP France 2013. The true story of a French equestrian show jumper. THE SPIRIT OF ’45 UK 2013. Doco by Ken Loach on the aftermath of the war and the programs set up by the Labour government which are gradually being disestablished.
Two films generally disliked by everyone: STRANGER BY THE LAKE, France 2013. Gay porno. ROMEO AND JULIET: A LOVE SONG, NZ 2013 Described as trailer trash pop.
A Canadian woman from Montreal is called to visit a comatose relative in Vienna, and, not knowing anyone there, wanders about, frequenting the Kunstistorisches Museum, and in doing so befriends one of the gallery attendents. He takes her under his wing and together they visit the cousin, as well as other sites of interest around Vienna. There doesn’t seem to be much purpose in this film other than to depict the unlikely friendship between the two. We do get some interesting shots of some of the magnificent art works in the museum, but they are random and unexplained, except for a series by Breughel, in which a docent discussed the life and times in which they were painted.
A fascinating foray into a day in the life of France’s Maison de la Radio. We follow various announcers, journalists and interviewers from the 7:00 morning news bulletins throughout the day until the early morning hours when they return to work to scan the papers and discuss the stories that are making the day’s news. A very warm and sympathetic peek into the complexities behind-the-scenes — the end result for the listener being a seamless and relaxed radio experience.
When two little boys turn six years old, their parents find out they have been swapped at birth. The two families, particularly the fathers, couldn’t be more different, one is well off and the other lives in lower class suburbia . It is an extremely difficult situation for both families, especially the fathers, to have to make the decision of whether keep the sons they have raised to this point or to swap. The focus is mainly on Ryota, whose wife had complications at birth and cannot conceive again. His life is well-ordered and has little room for deviation, his journey throughout the film is a painstaking one, reflected by the manner in which he was raised, and is now treating his own son, both his biological one and his other one. A wonderful, heart-warming drama.
Beautiful tattoo artist meets handsome bluegrass lead singer/banjo player of The Broken Circle Breakdown band. They fall passionately in love, marry, have a child, and six years later their daughter contracts cancer, and tragedy enters what seemed to be a perfect life. As the story unfolds it is filmed like the shuffling of a deck of cards, amidst the sublime sounds of the bluegrass tunes. Invariably questions are asked, why has this happened to us, to whom do we apportion blame! Ultimately, it is the music that is the spiritual force that helps us through the hard times. Bring a hanky!
Saudi Arabia/Germany 2012
I came away from this film feeling extremely grateful that I was born into a Christian/Western society, and absolutely horror-struck and angered by the repressive society created for women by the Muslim world. This little film does deliver some hope that not all women are content to be subjugated, however. Considering that cinema is illegal in Saudi Arabia, and that this film is a first feature directed by a woman, Haifaa Al Monsour, it is a truly amazing achievement. The insight into the fabric of Muslim society cold only be exposed so succinctly by someone who actually lives in it.
A charming documentary featuring Sister Loyola, who turns 90 during the filming. She joined the Sisters of Compassion in Wellington, NZ as a nurse, having made the decision she wouldn’t marry because her soldier hadn’t returned from the war. She became a nurturer of small babies that no one wanted, and eventually a nurturer of gardens, both the convent garden and a community garden. In the film, she shares her views on life, compassion, and compost, as well as the faith that has sustained her for so many years. The filming of the convent gardens and Wellington landscapes over the four seasons is lovely. An inspiring film on aging as well as gardening.
A totally riveting and entertaining film dealing with the rise and fall (although I wouldn’t be surprised if he resurrects) of Julian Assange,and the unfortunate life and preoccupations of Private Bradley Manning, and their intense desire to expose the secrets of governments and large corporations. Documentary-maker Alex Gibney has interviewed many interesting journalists and keen advocates of freedom of speech and the internet. One can only wonder how much more provocative the narrative would have been if he had a crystal ball and could have included the hapless Edward Snowden! I highly recommend this film.
New Zealand 2013
This is essentially a filming of a pretty ballet on stage interspersed with real-life shots of the lovers in other settings. Gillian Murphy is a lovely, delicate Giselle, Qi Haun is Albrecht, the prince who woos her but of course he is disguised as a commoner and it all goes to custard in he first act. The second act is dominated by the ghosts of women who have been jilted at the alter,who induce men into their midst and force them to dance until they die. A lovely pas de deux here as the lovers are shown rehearsing in the studio.
Gloria is beautifully portrayed as a 58 yr old divorcee who frequents nightclubs because she like to dance, but of course ultimately hopes to find romance. And she does, but he turns out to be hopelessly tied to his divorced wife and two adult daughters. Some of Gloria’s actions are foolish, some are sympathetic, but one is always on her side because she is an honest person, true to herself.